The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre to provide financial assistance of Rs 17.5 crore for setting up two gas stations in Himachal Pradesh and asked the state to commence CNG bus services in eco-sensitive Rohtang Pass area “without fail” in the coming tourist season.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Ministry of Petroleum to look into the issue of setting CNG stations at Tahliwal and Manali and “consider” its case “objectively and purposefully”.
“We direct Secretary of Ministry of Petroleum to consider the case of the state of Himachal Pradesh for financial assistance in relation to Rs 17.5 crore expenditure to be incurred in that regard.
“Under the federal structure of our Constitution, environment being central subject, it is expected that both the governments would put their means together to achieve the object of clean environment, which is a fundamental right of the citizens,” the bench said, adding the activity would add revenue to state government and Centre.
The direction came after counsel appearing for Ministry of Petroleum told the bench that they do not have any policy to support the Himachal government for setting up CNG stations.
The green panel also directed Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum to convene a meeting within a week with Himachal Pradesh, Green Gas Ltd and other concerned to take a final view on the matter.
To minimise pollution in the Rohtang Pass area, the tribunal had cleared the decks for plying of CNG buses on the 51-km-long Manali-Rohtang highway.
The tribunal’s nod to plying of CNG buses had come after Himachal Pradesh government told a bench that trial run was successful and the state has planned to introduce these buses for regular operation from Vashist to Rohtang Pass.
The tribunal had earlier directed the Centre and all the departments concerned of the state to extend their full cooperation for the project to protect Rohtang.
It said the CNG project needs to be dealt expeditiously in order to protect the eco-sensitive area of Rohtang which is one of the most beautiful part of the state.